I was shopping for a fish a few weeks ago. I wanted to be sure of all my options. I inquired with the expert on staff at our local fish store, “what would be a good fit?”
Her immediate response was a list of ten different fish that I’d never heard of. I immediately pretended the previous thirty seconds didn’t happen and tried the “point and grunt” approach. Apparently, I hit on some she was fond of because she wouldn’t shut up about shoaling and schooling, egg sacks, and mouth fertilization. I tried desperately to wipe that thirty seconds out but I had reached my quota for the conversation and will forever have the image of fish breeding in a perpendicular manner, locked into my memory banks.
I felt a swell of pride when I knew the name of the fish in the next tank without having to cheat. “How about those guppies?” I was looking for factoids but what I got back was a cryptic hand gesture and comment. “Live bearers are like the Labrador retrievers of aquariums.”
I withdrew from the conversation immediately. I have a Labrador and think he’s grand. Then I remembered what a pain in the posterior he was for the first few years. Then I remembered that his breed is one of the most popular in the world but also one of the highest represented breeds in animal shelters. Could Platy, Mollies, and Guppies be high maintenance pets, with the need for long term commitment, a healthy income, and large spaces? I started to ask when I noticed the expert, expertly examining a thermometer, upside down, then looking back at the package and decided she just doesn’t get Labradors.
As I was cleaning my tank this evening my mollies and platy started biting me. It gave me a chuckle as I thought back to the expert at the LFS. In some strange way, she was right, for all the wrong reasons.
Perhaps they are like labs for another reason all together. No, we don’t generally dress our labs up and smuggle them into movies in our purses, or get their nails painted. They’re beautiful and can be sooo cute, but they’re not exotic and shiny. They’ll eat your car keys just as quickly as a milk bone.
Those don’t seem like pluses but they are. I can take my dog to just about any hardware store and have him invited in by the owner, and be regailed with a dozen “when I was a kid stories.” (I’ve never paid full price for anything when I take him) My neighbors will pet him if he’s clean and shiny or if he’s covered in mud and smells of freshly rolled in dead animal. Their reward is his eagerness to see them. And while I’m loath to admit it, the week he ate my mom’s car keys will forever be one of the funniest times I have ever had. When we got them back, washed them off and handed them back to her…. Ah, pure comedy… she traded the car in the next day and now keeps her keys clipped to a baseball bat, when he’s around.
Live bearers can be quite pretty but they aren’t exotic and difficult. They’ll eat just about anything and we all have a funny story about one. Mine bite me when I clean the tank. . I reprimand them and shoo them away but they come right back… just like my lab.